Trip Report
Above Average Trip Report (The Meadows and Beyond)
Tuesday October 14, 2008 2:58pm
I am an above average climber. Adam is better than me by maybe a grade or two, but together we are nothing more than an above average team. We'll never do the Eiger, we'll never do the Cassin Ridge and may or may not get up the Nose someday. But we do get lots of good stuff done for two mid thirties dads who have eight kids between us. Our church friends and chubby hikers we pass on the trail think we are total hardmen. We like to let them. We have to be pretty humble in our 5.8ness when we get around road trippers, full time climbers, or anybody we have ever read about in a magazine. We call our big three day end of season trip "Project Mayhem" because it sounds kinda dangerous and noble. Stolen from an epic Jim Beyer adventure, the name lends some element of bravery to our otherwise moderate route selection. Our goal is always the same. Three days, three summits. We don't like crowds. We'll sleep anywhere. We seek adventure and the alpine high but we like to keep the risk level manageable. Our sights this year were set for the West Ridge of Conness and or Matthes crest, but with the threat of the first season's storm coming to the high country we decide to do stuff reachable from the car in a day. We roll into The Meadows early on day one and the Stoke is high.
Racking in the parking lot after a breakfast of Tuolumne Lard never gets old.

Goal number one Eichorn Pinnacle via the easy route. "5.4, instant exposure!" the supertopo claims. Bah! Five four....we are totally four letter grades harder than that. Bring it on!
We huff and puff up to the notch, where we find the start of the route in a killer position. Ok, the exposure kinda gives me the willies but I don't share this with Adam. The little bit of ego boost that an overweight hiker with her hood flaps tied under her chin gave us by calling us hardcore when seeing the rope "peeking" out from under our pack lid vanishes with the scramble to the proper starting ledge. Dean Potter would not be impressed with the void below but we are.
Adam starts up but runs out of rope because we started too low. I get the main lead, which totally rocks. Steep climbing above the void.....big jugs...ancient pitons for pro.......then shocking rope drag as we somehow got up there with only four long slings. I set up a pathetic belay just shy of the summit and bring Adam up. He tries to look cool but instead smiles and giggles like a schoolgirl. Does it get any better than this?
He leads through and on to the summy.
Killer place, that summit.

It has that, "you gotta earn it" feeling. The summit register is empty but we need no pen and paper to cement our place in history as some of the fortunate few who have chilled out in this spectacular spot.
Two dudes from Berkley come up behind us and it turns out they have a buddy over on Cathedral who takes a shot of us on top.
How cool is that. Rather than the blurry, up close, one arm self portrait, we get a glory shot. Check this out.
We rap off and hoof it back to the car in time for a tasty dinner of Kung Pow Chicken and Spicy Peanut Pad Thai.
Day one in the books.
Then I proceed to nearly light the Meadows on fire with my pocket rocket by forgetting that my brand new 49.00 ultralight JetBoil pan has a plastic plate/lid on the bottom. Its ultralight cause its freakin' plastic! Nice.
I spy some mangy lookin' dudes lurking in the dark near our table and ask 'em if they are thru hikers. "'d you know...."
"Because you dudes look miserable, worked and hungry and you are wearing tennies and have more facial hair than the mystery lady at the Fresno Fair."
We ask them to join us for a warm meal and it turns out they lost thier stove..............................................................................ELEVEN HUNDRED MILES AGO! They have been getting by on tuna packs and energy bars for three squares a miserable day for who knows how long. Unbelieveable. They salivate and mumble as we prepare every one of our Mountain House meals for them. We will buy more food in the morning for our trip. Tonight is their lucky night and we chill in the parking lot, listen to Jackson Browne tunes and gorge until bloated.
They walked thirty seven miles that day and will be heading south into the maw of the High Sierra this week. They need the calories more than we do. 2700 miles sounds like a drag. We did four miles and my pinky toe has a quite painful blister. I get no sympathy but much thanks as we head off to the tent and they head into the meadow for another night of tentless "stealth camping."
Basecamp I: morning 2

gotta go for now.....I'll finish this later if anybody is interested....Day two and three to come...
Ok...where were we. Oh yeah. Day two. We wake to bluebird skies and head back Up to The Meadows. We have done a lot of stuff in the High Country on previous Project Mayhems (Cathedral East Buttress, Tenaya Northeast Buttress, Tressider) but hadn't ever just rock climbed in the sun. We thought we might go do something on Pywiack Dome then on to South Crack or West Crack on Daff.
Here we are ready gearin' up for Zee Tree, pretty much the softest route in the area, but high ego value due to hordes of traffic. What does it say about us that we require the adoration of the masses. Mark Twight would be dissappointed.
Zee Tree was great. We made good time and decided to finish on the 5.7 direct finish up the wide, steep crack near the summit.
last pitch. Steep and offwithth lieback. Money.
On the summit, I see something curious down by my now very small vehicle. Somebody is milling around near my FJ! Ok, now tthere is somebody sitting on the hood of my FJ! Get off my FJ! I yell in vain as thousand feet below somebody is messing with my baby. All I can do is close one eye and squish the perpetrator. There, take that. I am totally squishing you. Hurts doesnt it?
We dine on Anacortes smoked salmon and enjoy looking down on the litle people below who admire us as death defying men of danger and strength. They have no idea whether we climb 5.7 or 5.12. They don't know our route doesn't have an (X) or even an (R) behind it. To them we are simply bad to the bone. And we like it that way.
(gotta more gets good soon after this...)
We don't really have time for another route that day, so the big question comes...what to do now? "You know, Mammoth is only like an hour away. We could peel outta here now, eat at the Mobile Station, sleep on the ground in Mammoth and climb this cool looking thing called Crystal Crag tomorrow morning."
"Dude, that puts us in Mammoth on Sunday evening....with a long drive back to Fresno."
"Yeah......Mayhem huh?"
"Bring it on!"
"No you bring it on!"
"No you bring it on...I'm in!"
"No, I'm in!"
"Dude we're Mammoth bound!"
""Day two in the books! Done deal."
Turns out it was my daughter on the hood of my Toyota. We never saw her, but she was on a "fieldtrip" with her Fresno State climbing class and saw the FJ sittin at the pullout. She even took a nice shot of us on the route. Coincidence?,,,,,,,,or fate? You decide.
On the way to mammoth I kill a thousand bugs with my windshield. Man I love the smell of the Eastside. That sage, the warm wind, the smell of alpine opportunity flows heavily along the breeze.
Even the clouds are bigger out there.
We hit Mammoth at full stride and the FJ comes to a screeching halt....what is that smell.......Kielbasa?.....Hops? that German Music?........OCTOBERFEST!!!!! We are doomed! We can't go straight into the backcountry! Is it legal to detour like this in the middle of an expedition? What would Bonnington do? He'd probably march on to high camp. I'm more of a Joe Simpson man. He'd stop and have a pint. So stop we do. Let the Fest commence.
Then somehow we find ourselves past dark in a pub having a fair game of snooker.
and a couple Guiness......and Some Bangers and Mash.....
we fight the strong desire to be lulled by the fair maiden of comfort into another ESPN college football game and another round and soon find ourselves sleeping on the roadside above Mary Lake. The stars sing us to sleep and all is well in the universe.
All is well in the universe other than the fact that we are awaked in terror at 2:30 am to a snarling coyote creeping up on us. Our headlights shoot out into the darkness to reveal another set of eyes 50 yds away. We scream and shout like frightened adolescents until they creep away into the shadows, bothered to have awakened their prey. Kinda tough to sleep after that. Adam even thinks about just heading up the trail, but I fall back to sleep dreaming of the golden granite we will dine on tomorrow.
We wake with the majestic Crystal Crag looming above the lake. Fishermen quietly launch their floattubes. We make oatmeal and brew black death coffee. Day three is upon us.

The approach is like a mile and a half or two and we blast it. We are animals today. Our strides are strong, our mountain legs plow uphill with the greatest of ease. Messner would have struggled to keep up and Viestures would have been begging for a water break.
Before 9:00 Adam is sending the first pitch.
"Dude you totally look like Steve House...just different." I yell up to him.
"Dude, you look like Steve House." I yell louder.
"I know....." is all he replies.
Here he is, looking a lot like Steve House if you aske me.
The real Steve House, note the similarities. At least the jacket.
Crystal Crag does not let us down. Three nice steep pitches bring us to the very crest. We weave up through a killer white band of quartzite and onto a sidewalk in the sky. The ridge is long and exposed and nicely continuous. What a great route! Little white puffy cluds continue to build and congeal. Will we make it off before the October gods become angry?
Adam poses for a screensaver shot on the 6inch wide crest. A true little gendarme. (say "Yon-darm")
This is about the halfway point on the ridge
Its two pm and we still have a long way to drive, so we decide to forget the next 45 minutes of ridge. We scramble down a third class chute and run down the trail. Missing the summit doen't bother us. Twight and House do it all the time. "the mountains are a measuring stick for me as a man," Twight says. "...summits are not."
Day three. Three Summits, three days. (The North Summit counts...o.k?)
We get back to town in time for a sale on all Patagonia goods at Mammoth Mountain Sports. I grab a black polo for 40 percent off. "A perfect piece for a session on the boulders or a night on the town" to steal a phrase from the Pattagucci catalog. It will make for great discussion starter for my city friends. "Guess where I got this....You ever heard of Project Mayhem?"
Sinister clouds boil around the crest as we shoot Northbound on 395.
Blazing Fall colors attempt to burn off the clouds above, but winter will soon have its way with Tioga Pass.
Rain hits us as we skitter past Tenaya Lake.
We laugh in the rain's face! We scoff at the weather! We bray like wild donkeys! "You can't touch us now, can you!" Bah! We escaped. We are fast. We are strong. We are bulletproof! Epic somebody else today! Today we are far above average!
Rain pelts the windshield. We round the bend and Clouds Rest comes into view. Awesome, moody, mellow. Like a van Gogh painting or something. I still have this shot as my screensaver. It takes me back to that day. Those three days of sunshine and solid stone under the fingers. Great meals, new friends and stars so bright you struggle to sleep. The Meadows are magic. Project Mayhem 08 goes off without a hitch. Being slightly above average has never felt so good. Soon the snow will come. A new season and a new game await. Time to dig out the Tele gear, put new batteries in the beacons and sharpen those edges. Project Winter Mayhem is just around the corner.

  Trip Report Views: 5,254
About the Author
micronut is a trad climber from fresno, ca.


  Oct 14, 2008 - 03:07pm PT
Please feel free to continue when you get a chance :)

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Oct 14, 2008 - 03:07pm PT
Keep it coming, wish I was there.

  Oct 14, 2008 - 03:09pm PT
Keep er coming.

We don't get many climbing posts around here.

climber's near nevada...
  Oct 14, 2008 - 03:10pm PT
kudos for hooking up the hikers with the vittles - nice...

Trad climber
  Oct 14, 2008 - 03:13pm PT
yeah, more pix please. except of the breakfasts. unless it's tpr or who nellie or jack's or the stove, etc.

Trad climber
Sittin' Pretty in Fat City
  Oct 14, 2008 - 03:15pm PT
We're waiting.

Trad climber
Tunneling out of prison
  Oct 14, 2008 - 05:08pm PT
Keeep posting up! I liked the gaunt hollow eyed looks.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
  Oct 14, 2008 - 05:16pm PT
Waiting for the rest and very tired of political trolls.

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Oct 14, 2008 - 05:37pm PT
Hardcore, dad. Get back to work!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Oct 14, 2008 - 06:27pm PT
Adding slowly to it between patients here.....stay tuned.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Oct 14, 2008 - 07:05pm PT
ok. done. enjoy.
Dr. Rock

Ice climber
  Oct 14, 2008 - 09:15pm PT
First report seen where they actually get up before 10 am, very good.

Donate the ropes to the Church and call it ten percent.


Gym climber
It's not rocket surgery
  Oct 14, 2008 - 10:21pm PT
Dang, I enjoyed that read and the pics.

Trad climber
  Oct 14, 2008 - 10:22pm PT
No summit? No soup for you!

Burn that Twight book.

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA/Joshua Tree
  Oct 14, 2008 - 11:22pm PT
Niiiiice!! It's refreshing to actually see a climbing trip report around here these days. Thanks for posting.

Haha - I hit the Mammoth Mountaineering sale too (last weekend)! They had Icebreaker women's stuff on sale 40% off, I could not resist!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Oct 14, 2008 - 11:34pm PT
Nice, micro, nice!!! Gettin' er done. That's cool your daughter showed up and took those shots. Funny too.

One of these days we'll hook up in Courtright.

Oh, I keep meaning to check out your blog too, just not enough time lately between this site and other crap.


  Oct 14, 2008 - 11:38pm PT
"He tries to look cool but instead smiles and giggles like a schoolgirl."

I don't know about the lookin' cool part but if you are not giggling like a school girl on the summit of these great peaks you got an attitude (altitude?) problem.
Such a great trip report! Oh yeah.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Oct 15, 2008 - 12:02am PT
There are climbs that, at the top of them, if you don't cry/giggle like a school girl, you're just not getting it; It has been my privy-ledge to do a smallish number of those topouts. In each case the result was due to a unique set of circumstances.
I'm looking forward to the next, of more of them...

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Oct 15, 2008 - 01:45am PT
I love this TR.

Trad climber
Boone, NC
  Oct 15, 2008 - 09:19am PT
Thanks for that thoroughly amusing trip report. Those are crucial in the midst of a beautiful season in NC and a busted tendon that prevents the enjoyment of said season.Keep 'em coming.

Social climber
A Sandy Area South of a Salty Lake
  Oct 15, 2008 - 10:19am PT
Great TR, but you guys had one very serious problem on your trip that you need to fix before your next adventure:

"... listen to Jackson Browne tunes..."

That alone removes much of your coreness.

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Oct 15, 2008 - 10:52am PT
Bwhahaa - Dave and I loved the TR and photos. I am concerned about your daughter though - is she okay after being squished? :)

Good job Dr. Death!


  Oct 15, 2008 - 11:42am PT
One of the best TRs in a good while. You guys sound like a riot to climb with. Good 'tudes. Nice job on the outing and the report...very grin inducing.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Oct 15, 2008 - 12:02pm PT
First off...let me address the Jackson Browne issue. I have a clean conscious. I have a soft spot for melodramatic singer-songwriters from the 70's. I miss Jim Croce and I have John Denver's greatest hits on my Ipod favorites. In some circles I hide this small vice (my favorite T-shirt is from Metallica's Summer Sanitarium tour), but in Tuolumne, at night, with the hiss of the stove and burble of the nearby creek, Jackson Brown hits the proverbial spot. Get off my back.

Secondly, the young lady I squished from the summit is doing just fine. She suffered c1-c3 compression and is rehabing a stiff neck. We expect a full recovery.

Here's a couple more shots from the trip.
Summit of Eichorn Pinnacle. Check out the summiteers on Cathedral Peak behind him.
Anacortes smoked salmon on a rye crisp butter cracker on top of Pywiack dome. "Fish.....Its what's for breakfast."
Kinda corny but fun. Pointing out the summit of Eichorn Pinncale from the summit of Pywiack. We were yesterday.

  Oct 16, 2008 - 02:01am PT

Trad climber
  Oct 16, 2008 - 02:22am PT
Better than a good movie. I feel refreshed, like I had returned to those places again. Thanks for the great read and pictures of such a beautiful place!
Jay Wood

Trad climber
Land of God-less fools
  Oct 16, 2008 - 02:34am PT
Sound Track!

We need a sound track!!

Social climber
  Oct 16, 2008 - 02:52am PT
hey there micronut... say, great trip with great pics and say, even great story lines...

sadly for me though, my computer downloads very slow... so i always have to come back later when i have more time to stay on line, and just sit a bit for the pictures to unfold...

it is ALWAYS worth it, mind you, but i just have too much to do and too little time, due to the hours that i have been working lately....

thanks for the GREAT, fun and the great share...

*sure like that part about your car, and your daughter's field trip and such.... oh, my...
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Oct 16, 2008 - 11:04am PT
Dudes, you are way above "above average" In the UK, 5.8 is called "hard very severe"

And you did it without supplemental oxygen.

As for your squished daughter, that was just faulty intelligence that resulted in collateral damage. No foul



Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Oct 16, 2008 - 12:57pm PT
Are you serious Karl, 5.8 is called Hard, Very Severe in tthe UK? We need new shirts for the 09 expedition. On the front of a dark green shirt,

H A R D. On the Back. V E R Y S E V E R E.

I'm thinking yellow Text.
Now when friends ask what grade I climb, I'll straight face 'em.
"Hard.".......long pause...."Very Severe."

Here are some more shots from the trip.
Stepping out onto exposed terrain on Eichorn. Ok, slight camera tilt for drama. Its still intense though.

The view never gets old at Olmstead

Parting Shot.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Nov 18, 2009 - 11:51pm PT
I just re-read my own trip report in an attempt to get motivated for winter. I haven't climbed for months. Anybody here done Crystal Crag in the middle of winter?

Just livin' the dream
  Nov 30, 2009 - 04:17pm PT
Heard a rumor about how awesome, humorous, and awesomely humorous this TR was...

...and the rumor was TRUE!!!

Add to that the excellent photos and you've got an Above Average Very Severe TR...just awesome!

Thank you!

Trad climber
the Magic City
  Dec 16, 2009 - 12:40pm PT
Nice Grill/Store parking lot suckaround session pictures! Classic!

grass pass
  Dec 20, 2009 - 09:52am PT
thanks again
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Dec 21, 2009 - 10:45pm PT
Yeah Baby! Fun, Fun, Fun!

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Jan 5, 2010 - 09:38pm PT
What a wonderful trip report! Funny, beautiful photos, a great story. Please accept my gratitude (only a year late) for a good cold-dark-night mid-winter read.

Trad climber
  Jan 11, 2010 - 09:51am PT
Good on you guys! Sweet TR - inspires me to want to go climbing in the Sierras immediately.

Trad climber
Lake District,UK
  Jan 16, 2010 - 06:45am PT

Great report, must admit I skimmed through the photos and picked up pieces of text along the trip but I did pick up on Jackson Browne.... agree.....try one of your own...Kevin Montgomery have seen him over here many times.

60 years old in March and was planning a road trip to re visit these may have just cost me a lot of dosh and sold me the deal!

These days are golden,never let them fade have been warned,take photos,make notes...

Thanks again,
Dave J.........

Oakland, CA
  Jan 16, 2010 - 03:02pm PT
Oh, I love your TR!

"The smell of alpine opportunity"...

how I'm missing it now. Sigh.

Mountain climber
Paris (France)
  Jan 22, 2010 - 01:24pm PT
Outstanding report!
Superb photos and great sense of humor ... It is a long time since I did not read something as well presented and as funny as this one ... love in particular some of the references to Messner and other mountaineers.
Great piece ...
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Nov 2, 2011 - 04:05pm PT
Way to tear it up.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Nov 15, 2011 - 01:28pm PT
Thanks Mike! Winter is gonna lock up the meadows soon. I wish I had time for one more binge......oh well, next year will be here soon enough I guess.

Social climber
CHC, en zed
  Nov 15, 2011 - 01:53pm PT
Thanks for posting this. Loving your TR's.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 15, 2011 - 05:10pm PT
Nice pics micro!

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Nov 15, 2011 - 09:03pm PT
I just saw this for the first time, and was entertained through the whole thing! Classic hard-very-severe-Man!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Author's Reply  Dec 12, 2014 - 12:05pm PT
Rainy day nostalgia selfie bump. What a fun trip.
looks easy from here

Santa Cruzish
  Dec 17, 2014 - 12:03pm PT
Very worthy self bump, great TR. Keeping the Stoke alive!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Mar 19, 2015 - 02:58pm PT
Micronut's soul is so obvious it's poetic.

<3 your TRs, bud!

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  Mar 19, 2015 - 03:36pm PT
Micronut, you write some of the best trip reports. I really do mean that. I consistently enjoy the climbing pictures, narrative and appreciate the sense of humor, Cheers!

Just livin' the dream
  Mar 19, 2015 - 04:05pm PT
Just read this TR and laughed out loud.

Then I drooled all over the fab photos, wishing I was an above average climber and could do the things you and Adam did with such melting the plastic bottom on your ultra-light stove.

And then I scrolled down reading the other comments...and saw that I'd actually read this TR back in '09...and really, really, really enjoyed it back then, too.

The great thing about aging is this: Every TR is filled with happy surprises and every climb is an onsight...even if you're seeing/climbing it for the 20th time.

Still rad!